Tony Cotman Talk About the 2012 IndyCar

The sanctioning body INDYCAR and their IZOD IndyCar Series are becoming one of the most open championships in the world in terms of fan access, both at the track and in terms of changing the product based on fan feedback, and explaining their thought processes, although clearly the recent fracas over decisions in race control shows there is still a long way to go.

This is a remarkable cultural shift if you think about the introverted nature of all flavours of North American open-wheel racing over the previous 15 years or more. That’s not to say others aren’t open, the ALMS and the BTCC are pretty good at it too, and so it is nice to see a topline open-wheel series following suit.

Noted motorsport bods NZR Consulting are also good at fan availability, just this week their people have been tweeting from Sao Paulo about the build-up of that street venue and the changes made there since 2010, a job tasked to NZR. Their most pubically-visible ‘name’ is Tony Cotman, who works with the IndyCar Series in race control and is also in charge of stewarding the Indy Lights series. He used to perform a similar function with Champ Car and whilst there he oversaw the transition from the then-old Lolas to the new Panoz DP01.

Cotman and NZR are now in charge of overseeing the IndyCar Series transition from the old Dallara IR7 to the new Dallara IndyCar body with “aero kit” add-ons provided by other makers, as well as the change from a sole supplier (Honda) to competition between 3 makes (Honda, Chevy, Lotus), allĀ  under the direction of the INDYCAR ICONIC Committee.

In this short video made publically available via the official IndyCar YouTube channel, Cotman explains the progress they have made to date and lets us know the timescale they are working toward.

I must say I was very sceptical when I first heard this plan which seemed like a letdown over full chassis competition, and it is still disappointing they didn’t take that route, but now I’m very excited to see how this turns out because it is far better than a single-spec series. The new car with engine competition is something really to look forward to, and the added extra of what should hopefully be a variety of aero kits adds an interesting dimension to the mix. Let’s hope those designs don’t converge over the following years to all look the same.

I’ve not asked IndyCar or NZR, but I assume as it on an open channel with a ‘share’ option that I’m allowed to repost the video. Thanks to the @Newman_Haas team for tweeting the original link and do also follow NZR Consulting and IndyCar if you don’t already.

IndyCar – A New Hope

Wednesday evening saw the announcement of the car concept for the next era of the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in 2012, as decided after much deliberation by the ‘ICONIC’ committee.

Wednesday evening saw the announcement of the car concept for the next era of the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in 2012, as decided after much deliberation by the ‘ICONIC’ committee. This was a chassis announcement, engines were briefly discussed but they were not the focus of this decision.

The Committee

The qualifications of the committee seem to me to be unquestionable.

  • Gil de FerranĀ  – Indy 500 winner, IndyCar and (former ALMS) team owner, former sporting director of Honda F1;
  • Tony Cotman – among many other things the man responsible for the Panoz DP01 project at Champ Car, also the chief steward of Indy Lights I believe;
  • Brian Barnhart – President of Competition at IndyCar;
  • Tony Purnell – founder of Pi Research, formerly ran Jaguar F1 and Ford’s Premier Performance Division;
  • Neil Ressler – former Chief Technical Officer at Ford Motor Company;
  • Eddie Gossage – President of Texas Motor Speedway;
  • Rick Long – Speedway Engine Development;
  • and of course the new superstar CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard.

It was chaired by retired General Bill Looney, apparently he was responsible for a major engineering project in the US Air Force.

I can’t think of a better driver to consult than Gil de Ferran, he’s won races in the current cars and the CART Lolas, and has management experience in three major championships. Cotman was the last man to bring in a new car to a budget in North American Open Wheel racing and he and his group learned a lot, it is good to see that knowledge being called upon. Purnell and Ressler have a close working relationship from their time with Ford and Jaguar. Gossage is perhaps the most creative track owner/promoter in the series at the moment.
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